IND vs SA: Rohit Sharma shows promise to excel and entertain

Rohit Sharma, in his new role as India's Test opener, scored a brilliant century on day one of the Vizag Test against South Africa.

Rohit Sharma is all smiles as his fourth Test century has put India in command against South Africa.   -  PTI

Rohit Sharma, a man many believed was destined for greatness across formats, has been a late bloomer in Tests. Lazy elegance and natural talent are the tags that followed him since his debut in 2007. But it has been a thrilling journey, make no mistake.

There are batsmen, his contemporaries, who have had a more visibly devastating impact with their big-hitting: Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Jos Buttler come to mind. But there's no brutality to Rohit's batting and yet those at the receiving end of it will tell you otherwise. If India's ascent in ODI cricket is an extension of Rohit's career, then at Vizag, he showed how much enthralling India's already spellbinding rise in five-day cricket can be, if he manages to grow in his new opener role.

He was pristine in his shot-making throughout the morning — particularly the six he hit off Dan Piedt in the 20th over. He didn't quite get to the pitch of the ball, and knowing a long-on was in place, Rohit trusted his instincts and lofted it for a maximum.

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There's a natural inclination to place emphasis on the more eye-catching qualities of Rohit's batting but the underlying theme on opening day's play was his willingness to adapt. The non-existent pitch demons notwithstanding, Vernon Philander tested India's new opener by moving the ball both ways. Rohit responded by walking down the pitch to negate the movement but was tied down to the crease by Quinton de Kock, who decided to come up to the stumps. At the end of it, he had successfully weathered the early storm.

At that moment, one could sense that the mood of the day's play was bound to change. The pace of cricket on offer in the five-day format merely delivers on a fundamental product attribute in the same way that the attraction of fast food is often centred around the literal point that it's fast. At the ACA-VDCA cricket stadium, as Rohit galloped to his 100, he delivered on the early promise to excel and entertain.